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Comments: Week of March 4, 2013

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1. The cover of Amy Larocca’s “Spring Fashion” issue featured Elle Fanning, dressed in cake and candy by artist Will Cotton, for a photographic portfolio, paying tribute to the season’s fashions, inside the magazine (The Sweetest Thing,” February 18–25). At Fashionista, Cheryl Wischhover called Fanning “one of the coolest teenagers on the planet.” And at NewNowNext, Julia Pugachevsky was just as breathless: “Elle Fanning proves she is the most stylish 14-year-old ever in this New York Magazine spread,” she wrote. “As if she hadn’t already won our hearts, the Cut reports that the 14-year-old sent Cotton a handwritten note at the end of the shoot thanking the artist for ‘a sweet weekend,’ with the all-too-true sign-off: ‘Desserts conquer all,’ ” wrote Hilary George-Parkin at Styleite. “Now excuse us while we go track down some macarons.”

2. “An astrologer whose word is gospel in certain high society, fashion-y circles, Susan Miller is a disorienting mix of savvy businesswoman and wacky pundit,” wrote Mallika Rao at the Huffington Post of Molly Young’s profile of the fashion world’s favorite fortune teller (Susan Miller Rising," February 18–25). “Young paints a picture of a modern breed of soothsayer who therefore deserves our attention more than the rest, a reasonable person with a successful website (the ‘catastrophically ugly’ traffic magnet Astrology Zone), a tawny Upper East Side apartment, and a vocabulary that doesn’t include the word ‘aura.’ Then there’s the character lurking in the background. Let’s call her Kooky Sue … It’s a credit to Young’s profile that it has the effect of making this character seem like the secondary figure in a story about a successful NYU graduate with a bachelor’s in business, on her way to establishing a one-woman empire in an unusual field of choice. But we know which Susan Miller we prefer.” Wrote another: “Fashion and Astrology. Makes perfect sense that two sham professions go hand in hand.”

3. “We may not actually know much about Beyoncé, but there is a model of perfection we would like to see in her, and the fact that she can sustain that image suggests she has it really, really, rigorously together,” Nitsuh Abebe wrote in an essay on pop’s Queen B, just ahead of her half-confessional, half-grandiose selfdirected HBO documentary, Life Is But a Dream, (Why Can’t Beyoncé Have It All?” February 18–25). “There’s just nothing authentic about her at all!!!!” wrote one reader who found Beyoncé an especially plastic pop star. “What I adore about Beyoncé is that she refuses to hide behind some kind of X-factor charisma,” wrote another. “She’s one of the only celebrities I can think of who took the time to earn the ‘role model’ title, and she’s done it in a way that’s radical as hell, radical enough to say ‘Anyone can do what I did. Get moving.’ ” Other readers, too, found the picture of naked ambition refreshing. “As a reluctant millennial, I’m getting increasingly uncomfortable with the Girls-think-piece-publishing set telling me I’m supposed to be having a miserable time figuring out what it means to be a young woman these days. For me and for so many of my generation, we were trained to be unrelenting in our vision of a self-defined success and committed to the work it takes to get there. We’re a lot more Beyoncé (and Lena Dunham, while we’re at it) than Hannah Horvath. Okay, we watch a lot of TV, but we also get shit done.”


4. “It cannot serve society’s purpose to make a felon and an inmate out of so gifted and well-meaning a person as Aaron Swartz, and thus he was a victim of a grave injustice,” Wesley Yang wrote in an obituary for the 26-year-old programmer, hacker, and activist, who committed suicide in January (while facing prosecution for hacking academic-article database jstor), “but it bears remembering that the greater injustice was done to Aaron Swartz by the man who killed him” (The Life and Afterlife of Aaron Swartz,” February 18–25). “Wesley Yang wrote about Aaron with sensitivity, complexity, and pathos,” wrote Swartz’s exgirlfriend Quinn Norton. “But then, I believe, he built the wrong image. He built an easier image than belonged there … To put this on Aaron is to say he was too weak, too fragile for our society. He should have been stronger, it’s what society requires. But Aaron would have (rightly) pointed out how meager and mean such a society is, how it’s the job of everyone to demand a better society.” One reader answered on our website: “And this is exactly why Quinn Norton was such a terrible ‘girlfriend’ for Aaron (if you can call someone thirteen years older who seduced a naïve boy while she was still married a ‘girlfriend’) and why Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman had been such a terrific partner for him these past two years.”

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